Health and Wellness Center at LEAP Academy helpings kids, parents and Camden community

The health center is on the school's tenth floor.
CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Dr. Velmina Rivera is used to being busy.

"I just saw two patients before you came," Dr. Rivera told Action News.

In the pandemic, the patient base at the Health and Wellness Center at LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden has doubled to more than 2,000 people.

"Because now kids are in school, so they're getting the regular viruses - not just COVID," Dr. Rivera said.

The health center is on the school's tenth floor.

Students, families, staff and even community members can take advantage of COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and other resources.

When Lorna Quintana's daughter got COVID last November, they learned quickly.

"She didn't have any symptoms, and we already know because they got tested quickly," Quintana said.

Clinic operations were briefly paused when the school shut down, but they quickly resumed even when school was remote.

"In March of 2020, when they started closing the school, (I was) still here," Dr. Rivera said.

"It lowered the number of spread because we could identify it and get it rectified immediately," Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Weaver-Rogers said.

The health center expanded over the years and hired a pediatrician when the school realized many of their families did not have health care and would end up in emergency rooms.

"We have the prevention side, which is so critical being really proactive informing people, educating our community, and then providing the medical services that was needed," said school founder Gloria Bonilla-Santiago.

"I think it's very unique because most schools don't have a health center so you're going to lose time for kids being educated because you have to go out to the doctor, parents are going to lose time from work, and we have this in house," Weaver-Rogers said.
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